Literacy iPad Apps for Teachers
APPS FOR ELEMENTARY GRADES
Build a Story $3.99 This app is easy for young children to use. It comes with a variety of default settings and ready-to-use characters and props. Students create the illustrations and type their stories,
making this app ideal for reinforcing fictional story elements, such as
character, setting, and plot. A main drawback is that editing the story is
not easy, so I would suggest that students prewrite their stories using a
storyboard and use this app as a publishing mechanism.
LAZ leveled reading libraries Free + (Paid libraries at each level cost $3–$6.) Teachers familiar with the Reading A–Z website ( www.readinga-z.com) will appreciate this app, where they can find leveled books in
e-reader format. I especially like this app because parents could also use
it to find books that their beginning and early readers can read on their
Mad Libs Free My own two children (ages 9 and 13) have actually been known to play together without fighting when I allow them to use my iPad to play Mad Libs. They said, “This is way
better than the regular [paper] kind because you don’t know what the story
will be until the end!” I like it because it is fantastic for broadening their
vocabulary. Can’t think of an adjective? No problem! Click on “hint” and an
ongoing scroll of words they probably wouldn’t have thought of rolls across
the screen with gems such as zany, ecstatic, and starving.
Sadun’s Whiteboard $2.99 Since this app’s original development, its creators have added some cool features, such as different colors of markers, a typewriter tool, and a hidden message option.
And what could be better than a whiteboard with markers that never run
out of ink? Kids can write with their fingers or use the typing tool.
iBooks Free + (Full-color picture books run $3.99–$12.99; chapter books cost $3.99 to $12.99, depending on how recently the book was published.) This is Apple’s answer to e-books, and it
rocks! The app comes with a complimentary copy of A. A. Milne’s classic,
Winnie the Pooh and a library with lots of empty shelves that just beg to
have more books added to them! Many other classic titles are free as
well, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Ugly Duckling, and The Velveteen
Rabbit. What makes this app stand out from other e-readers are the full-color pictures and page-turning features.
By Jennifer Shettel
Frosty Welcome Free Letters that look like they are on a whiteboard move easily with your finger. Students can use them like magnetic letters to spell words, practice the alphabet, or sort letters
into categories. This free app contains only lowercase letters, so that
could be a drawback. This app contains an email feature so students can
send home their “fridge messages.”
Puppet Pals HD Free + (Contains one free sample pack; other packs available for 99 cents each, or buy the director’s pack for $2.99.) The theater lover in me adores this app! Imagine your students’
theater presentations coming to life! Students select characters from
different theme packs, choose a backdrop, and go to town recording and
watching their shows. This app comes with the Wild West pack for you
to play with, but I recommend purchasing the Director’s Pass for only
$2.99, so you can have access to all the theme sets including Fairy Tales,
Politicians, and Zombies, to name just a few.
USA Today Free Can’t afford to subscribe to the newspaper for your class- room? No problem! USA Today is a free app that looks just like the paper copy—full color, with plenty of news, maps,
charts, and graphics. All the features teachers love about this newspaper
are the same on the app. Students can read it like a traditional newspaper
or jump to different sections by touching the screen.
Shake-n-Spell Free I love word games for building fluency and flexibility in spelling, phonics, and vocabulary. This is a fun game that reminds me of the board game Boggle. You even shake the
mobile device to start the game! I also like how you can select a time of
one, two, or three minutes—built-in differentiation for various levels of
learners! This one is a big hit with my own children. Technically, this is an
iPhone app, but it works just fine on the iPad.
Wild about Books! $4.99 More and more interactive e-picture books are coming to the app market. I love this story because it’s about reading. There are many interactive places for kids to “play” in the
story. The words light up when the reading is happening, and the voice
sounds natural—not robotic at all. Turn off the sound so students can
practice fluency by saying the words as they light up!